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World Cup 2018 Knockout Stage: 2nd-Round Schedule and Bracket Predictions

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2018

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 27:  Brazil goalscorer Paulinho celebrates his goal with Gabriel Jesus (l) and Neymar Jr during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group E match between Serbia and Brazil at Spartak Stadium on June 27, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

The line-up for the knockout phase of the 2018 FIFA World Cup is now complete, with Germany the biggest casualty to miss out.

Some of the other traditional contenders failed to top their groups, though, so the draw has thrown up some tantalising fixtures for the next round.

Here is the complete schedule for the round of 16, including predictions for each game:

                             

Saturday 30 June

  • 3 p.m. BST/10 a.m. ET France vs. Argentina: 2-1
  • 7 p.m. BST/2 p.m. ET Uruguay vs. Portugal: 2-1 aet

                                   

Sunday 1 July

  • 3 p.m. BST/10 a.m. ET Spain vs. Russia: 3-1
  • 7 p.m. BST/2 p.m. ET Croatia vs. Denmark: 2-0

                           

Monday 2 July

  • 3 p.m. BST/10 a.m. ET Brazil vs. Mexico: 2-1
  • 7 p.m. BST/2 p.m. ET Belgium vs. Japan: 3-1

                            

Tuesday 3 July

  • 3 p.m. BST/10 a.m. ET Sweden vs. Switzerland: 1-1 aet, Sweden on penalties
  • 7 p.m. BST/2 p.m. ET Colombia vs. England: 1-2 aet

                                       

Spain vs. Russia

Spain topped Group B, but the sacking of manager Julen Lopetegui looks to have taken its toll on La Roja.

They repeatedly looked vulnerable at the back, so it was little surprise they shipped three goals against Portugal and two against Morocco.

ESPN's David Cartlidge has not been impressed with them so far:

David Cartlidge @davidjaca

Every bit of vibrancy, versatility and end product that Lopetegui found has seemingly disintegrated. The Spain players managed the off-field situation but on it they're incapable of doing so. They need a leader. #ESP

By contrast, the hosts surprised with wins in their first two matches having looked poor in the run-up to the tournament.

Nevertheless, Spain—even with their problemsshould have enough to win.

Russia may have beaten Saudi Arabia and Egypt, but they failed to trouble Uruguay in their first real test. While they played for almost an hour with 10 men in that game, they were already 2-0 down before Igor Smolnikov left the pitch, so it's difficult to imagine them keeping Spain out.

                 

Brazil vs. Mexico 

Brazil secured their spot in the knockout phase with a 2-0 win over Serbia, having beaten Costa Rica by the same scoreline after drawing 1-1 with Switzerland in their opener.

As Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe noted, they have looked stronger as the tournament has gone on:

Sam Tighe @stighefootball

FT: #SRB 0-2 #BRA. Brazil are growing into this #WorldCup. Neymar and Coutinho dazzled tonight, but Casemiro, Silva and Miranda very sturdy defensively. Brazil wobbled for a period but held on. Tadic looked dangerous, Mitrovic had his chances.

After opening the scoring in Brazil's first two matches and setting up Paulinho to break the deadlock in the third, Philippe Coutinho has shown himself to be a key player for the Selecao:

OptaJohan @OptaJohan

3 - Philippe Coutinho is the first player with a goal or assist in all 3 group stage games at the 2018 #WorldCup. Essential. https://t.co/iuwMG4Gh5w

Neymar has struggled to show his best, but while he has often been wasteful in possession, he has also laid on plenty of opportunities for his team-mates, per football writer Rupert Fryer:

Rupert Fryer @Rupert_Fryer

Neymar lost possession 29 times tonight - 10 more than anyone else on the pitch. He has now lost it almost 20 times more than anyone else at the #WorldCup. Only Messi (20) has completed more than Neymar's 17 dribbles & nobody more than Neymar's 11 chances created. #HeWhoDares? https://t.co/Q1LvI7jf5H

Mexico are deadly on the break thanks to the triple threat of Hirving Lozano, Javier Hernandez and Carlos Vela and they should have plenty of space in behind against Brazil, so they're not to be underestimated.

The Selecao look able to win the tournament if they continue on their current trajectory, though. It's likely to be a close game and winning is hardly beyond El Tri, but the South American side should have the edge.